There is a subtle difference between joy and happiness. While happiness is tied to the material reality, joy transcends the world. Happiness is an emotion, a response to something good happening. Joy is greater. Joy can be present in times of sorrow. Joy changes a person in a lasting way, while happiness is more fleeting.
When you have a child, you feel joy. In that moment, you aren’t concerned with the mortgage, the bills or the cost of raising a child. Joy exists within hard times and easy times. To feel joy is to find the one good thing that makes any amount of bad meaningless.
Joy touches universal human emotion in a way that happiness does not. Some people like to eat chocolate. While they may get happiness from this, it certainly won’t bring true joy. However, if the person realizes how simple happiness really is and that a simple piece of chocolate can bring happiness, then they may experience joy. This wisdom of the simplicity of life can bring joy to anyone who comes across it, even if they don’t like chocolate.
Joy unites people to the fabric of life. It is something that is larger than one person and in realizing this that the person is overcome by the positive aspect of joy. Joy overflows, and joy in one person spreads to everyone around.
Joy is generally thought of in relation to key events in life, such as getting married, having a child and watching that child graduate college. These are the times when life reminds us that we are alive. As the realization dawns on us, we are grateful to life. Joy is a gift.
Psychology Today Finding Joy: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/isnt-what-i-expected/201101/finding-joy
The New York Times The Joy of Quiet: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/opinion/sunday/the-joy-of-quiet.html?pagewanted=all